Flora & Ulysses :
The Illuminated Adventures
by Kate Dicamillo; illustrated by K.G. Campbell.
Curriculum Collection, Juvenile Fiction , 2nd floor
What do you get when a Ulysses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000X vacuum cleaner – a birthday present gone terribly wrong – ingests and regurgitates a backyard squirrel? Why, a super-squirrel with superpowers, a poetic bent, and a very bad grooming job, of course! Without Flora Belle Buckman, the 10-year-old star, and without her knowledge of CPR gleaned from her careful readings of her favorite comics, “The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto!” and its survival guide companion, “Terrible Things Can Happen to You!”, the hapless rodent would not have lived to entertain us with his tale. Ulysses, which Flora aptly names her newfound friend, needs her continued protection against his arch-nemesis, Flora’s mother Phyllis. Phyllis, always busy typing her romance novels, is perplexed by Flora’s obsession with comics, sees no romance in her daughter’s friendship with a squirrel, and simply misses Flora’s lonliness. Phyllis schemes unsuccessfully to bring about Ulysses’ demise, providing plenty of madcap adventures. Flora finds an ally in William Spiver, her neighbor Tootie Tickham’s blind nephew, whom she reluctantly enlists to help her protect Ulysses.
Alternating between Flora’s and Ulysses’ narration, the reader can begin to appreciate a squirrel’s worldview – albeit that of a supersquirrel with newfound powers of cogitation. This squirrel admires the beautiful things around him, including, “giant donuts and Flora Belle Buckman’s round head and all the wonderful thoughts inside of it” [p. 181]. Just what goes through the squirrel’s brain as he tries his paw at tapping out a poem or two on Phyllis’s electric typewriter? Find out in this sweetly absurd, chapter book adventure.
In honor of National Poetry Month, it is fitting to share a poem – – written by a squirrel:
I love your round head,
the brilliant green,
the watching blue,
this world, you.
I am very, very hungry. [p. 65]
by Ulysses (or Kate DiCamillo), Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures